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The how and why of the CIA’s secret effort to take control of social media
By Ethan Huff // May 29, 2024

The latest Twitter Files drop shows that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) led a massive effort during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) "pandemic" to seize control of then-Twitter's (now X) content management system.

Independent journalists Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi and Alex Gutentag put together an in-depth report about their latest findings, which reveal that the CIA acted well outside its jurisdictional bounds in trying to control the trajectory of social media particularly between 2021 and 2022 when the world was distracted by the "virus."

A member of the Board of Trustees at InQTel, the CIA's mission-driven venture capital firm, teamed up with "former" intelligence community (IC) and CIA analysts to basically try to co-opt the entire Twitter platform for its own purposes, which were then centered around trying to keep a lid on the COVID narrative.

According to "thousands of pages of Twitter Files and documents," the CIA and friends sought to micromanage every piece of content that passed through Twitter under the guise of fighting "misinformation" and so-called "foreign propaganda" efforts.

Shellenberger et al. explain in their exposé that a sizable cohort of government-linked individuals and organizations went to great lengths during that time to control free speech because they claimed it was a national security issue. They include:

1) A longtime IC contractor and senior official of research and development (R&D) at the Department of Defense (DoD) who spent years developing technologies to detect whistleblowers, whom they referred to as "insider threats," like Edward Snowden and other leakers at WikiLeaks

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2) Nina Jankowicz, the proposed head of the now-dissolved Disinformation Governance Board at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who helped the United States military and NATO "hybrid war" operations in Europe

3) Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) General Counsel Jim Baker, who helped start the Russiagate hoax – while acting as Deputy General Counsel at Twitter, Baker also played a role in convincing social media executives to censor the New York Post story about Hunter Biden

(Related: Did you catch our earlier report about how the CIA, in partnership with the World Economic Forum [WEF] and other deep state entities, controls the entire mainstream media empire?)

GoDaddy, AWS and PayPal: an unholy trinity of censorship

Also known as "Scary Poppins," Jankowicz remains an aggressive promoter of online speech restrictions, which she says are necessary to counteract "rampant disinformation." Rather than let the chips fall where they may, Jankowicz worked alongside Baker to restrict certain types of speech online, including that which is considered "politically sensitive."

It appears as though Jankowicz et al. spent much of their time focusing on Twitter and other social media platforms where ideas go to spread, but we also know that entire websites were also targeted by the likes of domain host GoDaddy, as well as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and PayPal.

This trio of companies are mentioned in the report as colluding with one another under the direction of the CIA and FBI to de-platform and financially de-incentivize both people and entire organizations deemed to be a threat against the IC and its global control and censorship operations.

"This approach represents a significant escalation in the use of corporate cooperation to achieve what might essentially be considered censorship under the guise of national security," explains Zero Hedge about the matter.

Jankowicz, by the way, is also buddies with Christopher Steele, the brainchild behind the infamous Trump-Russia dossier as funded by two-time failed presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton. Jankowicz was also a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center where she advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in partnership with the Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship.

Jankowicz also, we now know, oversaw the Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute – so she has had her hand in a lot of things pertaining to speech and the free expression of it.

The First Amendment is too much for Jankowicz who believes that online speech needs to be regulated. Anything less is comparable to the lack of government regulation of automobiles back in the 1960s, she argued while calling for a "cross-platform," public-private approach to controlling what gets said online.

If this means that major search engine platforms like Google have to be censored, along with top social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, then so be it, according to Jankowicz, who believes that the U.S. should emulate Europe in terms of controlling what gets said online.

"Germany's NetzDG law requires social media companies and other content hosts to remove 'obviously illegal' speech within 24 hours or face a fine of up to $50 million," Jankowicz is quoted as saying in a complaint to U.S. lawmakers.

"Congress has yet to pass a bill imposing even the most basic of regulations related to social media and election advertising."

Jankowicz wrote a book, published in 2020, that praises a NATO cyber security expert for creating a "Center of Excellence," which came up with the now-failed Disinformation Governance Board that Jankowicz headed up during its brief period of existence.

A year after that brief stint, Jankowicz went on to work at an "anti-disinformation" consulting firm called Alethea Group that, you guessed it, was staffed by "former" analyst spooks from the CIA and FBI.

Althea targets independent media

Alethea, as you may recall, went after independent media outlets like Zero Hedge for reporting about the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapse in a way that allegedly "increased online panic." Althea "shop[ed] a 'dossier' around," according to the Hedge, that made these and other false allegations about independent media.

The Hedge was eventually dropped from inclusion on the dossier, which an operative dropped on Twitter only to be mocked relentlessly for spreading obvious propaganda. The public is apparently wising up to the CIA's tricks, and this kind of crusading behavior against free speech is not all that popular among We the People.

It should also be noted that Alethea secured a massive $20 million Series B financing package for Google Ventures at a time of "ongoing investment drought" when very few cyber security companies have been able to raise the cash they require to operate.

Former CIA analyst Cindy Otis also hails from Alethea, Otis having also written a book that in her case praises notorious hacker Pieter "Mudge" Zatzo who was hired by Twitter to "tackle everything from engineering missteps to misinformation."

Jankowicz spoke about her and Otis' "full time employment" at Alethea, which allegedly occurred at separate times. Jankowicz says she started there on Sept. 13, 2021, while Otis left before that and "to my knowledge ... has not been employed with Alethea since that time."

"My work with Alethea Group as a consultant (summer 2021) was narrowly focused on my subject matter expertise related to Russia," Jankowicz is quoted as saying.

"I conducted Russian language translation and provided cultural analysis. When I joined Alethea as an employee (fall 2021) my work was entirely focused on public products: Changes to Alethea's website, editing public reports, liaising with media, etc."

Who's telling the truth?

Shellenberger et al. say that Jankowicz's claims and timeline do not pass muster. Their investigatory work found that Jankowicz had a different job title at Alethea while the company was partnered with Twitter to manage "misinformation" during the contentious 2020 election.

Alethea's Statement of Work contract with Twitter lists her as "Technical Research Director" but company founder Lisa Kaplan claims that Jankowicz "was never given the title Technical Research Director."

"That is a reference to a labor category for a contract," Jankowicz said. "We respect client confidentiality and do not discuss relationships with our customers. In reviewing Nina's timesheets, she did provide support to one client that I cannot disclose, however I can confirm that while she was employed as the Director for External Affairs, Nina never conducted work at Alethea on behalf of Twitter."

When Jankowicz was presented with documented evidence listing her as "Supplier Personnel," she denied having ever seen such a document and offered up a spiel arguing that these titles were not set in stone and allowed for contractor "flexibility."

The Statement of Work, though, is a formal contract between two firms that is very specific in its terms. In fact, the contract specifically stipulates that "any changes to the above listed Personnel must be approved by Twitter in writing." In other words, it was pretty set in stone – so who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Jankowicz spoke to Public, Shellenberger's official Substack, claiming that she was friends with Otis before working on this project, but that this happened so far in the past that it does not constitute a "relationship" with the intelligence community.

Those pushing Alethea on Twitter had ties to U.S. intelligence

You may recall that in July 2020, Twitter suffered a phishing attack that resulted in the official accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk all being hacked. The hack resulted in the accounts tweeting messages asking followers to send Bitcoin to a private crypto wallet address, which was later tied to 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark, who was arrested.

Three months after this phishing attack, Jack Dorsey, the old CEO of Twitter, wrote in an email that "Mudge signed," referring to Zatko, the hacker who ended up being hired by Twitter, and who was thanked by Jankowicz's friend Otis in her book for his work at the social media platform.

Zatko was barely at Twitter for even three months when he made his first big recommendation to Twitter executives that they "hire the Alethea Group" to conduct an "external investigation" into "the disinformation angle."

Twitter ended up authorizing Zatko's request, which then led to Alethea being brought in to investigate the January 6 "insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol and how it began, according to these deep state insiders, as a result of "the initial 'Stop the Steal' narratives" that emerged out of the stolen 2020 election.

Zatko turns into a whistleblower

In a Feb. 4, 2021, email, Zatko described Alethea as "a boutique consultancy that specializes on disinformation and counter-messaging operations." He also revealed that the company was working with not only himself but also Yoel Roth, Twitter's former head of Trust and Safety.

"The organizations and people behind this recommendation have the connection [sic] to get this in front of the right people in the administration," Zatko wrote in another email correspondence on March 21, 2021, that also contained a 12-page report co-authored by the Aspen Institute's Vivian Schiller that pushed for even more government-led censorship of social media.

Schiller, by the way, led the "pre-bunking" of the Hunter Biden laptop story. She also has ties to Hamilton68 hoax author Clint Watts and boasts work published by the Mossaver-Rahmani Center at the Harvard Kennedy School and NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

It would then come out not long after all this that Zatko "had engaged with members of U.S. intelligence agencies," with Shellenberger et al. noting that "[a]ttitudes toward Zatko would be quite different two years later" once he became a whistleblower, sued the company, and settled for a cool $7.75 million.

"He then filed a complaint with the Justice Department, SEC, and FTC, alleging Twitter executives had misled the government, been negligent in protecting user data, and had violated a 2011 consent decree with the FTC," Public reports.

"Somebody leaked Zatko's complaint to the Washington Post, which reached out to Twitter for comment on August 19, 2022 ... In a shared Google Doc, dated August 21, 2022, called 'Comms Statements / Tracking,' Twitter executives fine-tuned the language for responding to the news media about Zatko's allegations."

Twitter would ultimately deny any knowledge of wrongdoing between Zatko and the IC he formally agreed to work with "that would allow him to work with them and provide information to them."

Later towards the end of 2022, Alethea took in $10 million from Ballistic Ventures which has as its general partner Ted Schlein, who "provides counsel to the U.S. intelligence community, serves on the Board of Trustees at InQTel [the CIA's mission-driven venture capital firm] and was recently named as a board member of the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee."

That same year, IQT published a report about its "Disinformation Workshop" that made recommendations about activities similar to those offered by Alethea, including services that "track the confluence of bad narratives."

Schlein is playing dumb about all this, claiming he does not know Zatko, Jankowicz or Otis. He claims he is unaware of any relationship between Alethea and the IC, and says he merely serves on Alethea's board.

The CIA clearly has its filthy hands in so many things the public relies on for communication. Learn more at DeepState.news.

Sources for this article include:






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